Strict Nature Preserve

Top choice in Białowieża National Park

This is the oldest section of the Białowieża National Park and covers an area of around 47.5 sq km, bordered to the north and west by the marshy Hwożna and Narewka Rivers, and to the east by the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park in Belarus.

This part of the park can only be entered in the company of an official guide.

The terrain is mostly flat, swampy in parts, and covered with mixed forest of oak, hornbeam, spruce and pine. Ancient trees reach spectacular sizes uncommon elsewhere, with spruce 50m high and oak trunks 2m in diameter; some of the oak trees are more than 500 years old. The forest is home to a variety of large mammals, including elk, roe deer, wild boar, lynx, wolves, beavers and the uncontested king of the puszcza, the bison. There are about 120 species of birds, including owls, cranes, storks, hazelhens and nine species of woodpecker.

The reserve gets pretty swampy in spring (March to April) and may be closed at times to visitors. Mosquitoes can be a problem throughout the summer, so be sure to cover your arms and legs and bring along some mosquito repellent.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Białowieża National Park attractions

1. Białowieźa National Park

3.24 MILES

Once a centre for hunting and timber-felling, Białowieża (Byah-wo-vyeh-zhah) is now Poland's oldest national park. Its significance is underlined by…

2. Nature and Forest Museum

3.51 MILES

Located in the modern visitors centre and hotel, this museum features exhibitions relating to the park's flora and fauna (mostly forest scenes with…

3. Palace Park

3.58 MILES

Palace Park was laid out in the 19th century around a splendid residence built for the Russian tsar, on the site of an ancient royal hunting lodge once…

4. European Bison Show Reserve

4.02 MILES

This modern and large enclosed animal park around 4km west of Palace Park is your best chance to see an actual bison. Though the bison died out in the…

5. Nature Museum

12.71 MILES

This museum near the entrance to Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park gives a great introduction to the myriad plant and animal species living in the park.

6. Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park

12.93 MILES

Unesco World Heritage Site Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park is the oldest wildlife refuge in Europe and the pride of Belarus. At the National Park…

7. Mizar

29.31 MILES

The Muslim cemetery is located in a patch of thick woodland 100m east of the mosque. The recent gravestones are Christian in style, showing the extent of…

8. Kruszyniany Mosque

29.33 MILES

This beautiful green mosque was built by the Muslim Tatars who settled here at the end of the 17th century. It's a rustic wooden construction, in many…